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How Far Can ‘John Wick’ Go?

By  · Published on February 13th, 2017

We can expect John Wick: Chapter 3, but anything beyond that?

If you’ve seen John Wick: Chapter 2, you know a third one is coming. That ending was almost Resident Evil level in its setup of another sequel. Add to that the box office success of the movie over the weekend: $30m and third place wouldn’t be much to shake a stick at for a lot of Hollywood releases, but for this action film, which was only expected to maybe break $20m, it’s a very good opening.

What John Wick: Chapter 3 might entail is not difficult given the way Chapter 2 concludes. There’s still an enormous price on the head of John Wick (Keanu Reeves), plus he’s just become “excommunicado,” making him an enemy of all members of the huge syndicate of assassins and gangsters and their allies, not just a persona non grata at their Continental hub hotel sanctuaries. He’s on the run with nowhere to go.

“Yeah, the studio has asked us to put our heads together and see if we can come up with something,” director Chad Stahelski told Collider in an interview from last fall. “Winston [Ian McShane] is a big part of the next one, so is Lance Reddick. We’ve got some ideas.” Those are the guys from the NYC Continental, and presumably Stahelski means they’d be the main villains of the second sequel.

And of course all the freelance hitmen and anyone who is part of one of the many mafia organizations in the city are his enemies, as well. We have to see Laurence Fishburne’s fake-homeless-leading Bowery King again, and perhaps we’ll see more of the Nigerian mob seen dealing with Gianna in Rome. Who else is still alive? Peter Stormare’s Russian boss, possibly Ruby Rose’s mute henchperson, and John Leguizamo, who could be forced to cross Wick now.

All of that keeps the plot of John Wick: Chapter 3 pretty squarely situated in NYC, which could be fine given there are sure to be many other mobs and gangs we haven’t seen ‐ I consider the world of Wick to be somewhat like the world of The Warriors, only slightly less ridiculous. In fact the next sequel could similarly be about the main character just attempting to get home while fighting off various baddies along the way.

Yet this is a franchise that in two movies has expanded its scope in a way that calls for more growth. Chapter 2 took us to Rome. Chapter 3 should take us to Nigeria or ‐ more to Reeves’s interests ‐ Japan. Or anywhere else in the world. Maybe multiple locations. If everybody is after Wick, and it does seem like Everybody, then he’s going to have to disappear somewhere internationally. Off the grid.

Does that take it too closely to Bourne territory? Probably. But the trajectory of action movies like this, particularly when a franchise begins with a modest-sized entry and aims for bigger and better, make me think more of Die Hard, which eventually went to Russia, Olympus Has Fallen, which was followed-up in London, and The Equalizer, which went global suddenly in its final minutes. They lose the spirit and tightness of their original premise.

Plus where do you go from there? Space, of course. That’s the joke answer I always think of, anyway, even more so after Machete actually fulfilled the idea at the end of its second installment (it’s funnier if that proposed third installment never actually happens). Once Wick has killed Everyone on Earth, obviously he has to be pursued by interstellar groups next. Just picture the Guardians of the Galaxy getting paged about the hit on Wick.

Review ‐ ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ is Here to Kick Ass. Taking Names is Optional.

The right thing for Wick to do is stop with three movies. Give us an old-fashioned true trilogy. Sure, we could watch the character shoot people in the head over and over again through many more movies, especially if we continue seeing new parts of the fascinating underground criminal society and also get more balletic fight sequences that make this like a series of dance films, but there’s no good, necessary reason to keep going.

There is an arc that will carry forth with Chapter 3 and the ramifications of Wick breaking the Continental’s rules. And that arc should conclude there. The third part should also be put on hold until Stahelski can direct. Or for David Leitch to return. Both are very hot right now and being offered other things, with the former rebooting Highlander and the latter taking over Deadpool. At least one needs to finish what they started, then that’s it.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.